White supremacy has been a problem throughout U.S. history and has been the source of many issues including slavery, the formation of neo-nazis, and confederacy. White supremacy has been widely known as the belief that the white race is superior, this belief started to develop during the colonization of the U.S. and still continues today.
White supremacy first started developing during the colonization of the U.S. The French and Indian wars initially gave English control over land and in the mid 15th century. The Portuguese began to take African people as slaves from Africa. In North America it was the English who started the influence of using race as a structure for social control. The Native American’s conquest was a main factor in the start and growth of white supremacy.
The enslavement of the African Americans greatly contributed to the social construction of white supremacy. In earlier years Africans were not slaves but were still laborers, like their counterparts from Europe. But when enslavement started, it grew rapidly. By 1650, 70% of Africans in Virginia were bound for life by landowners. In 1661 the Virginia Assembly passed a law legalizing the practice of slavery, which in turn promoted and supported the idea even more. Africans were made an easy target because they could be easily identified amongst the Native Americans and did not have the power of owning any land like they did. This practice initially became so popular amongst landowners because it resolved the need for cheap laborers, and became a huge market.
Bacon’s rebellion was another critical factor in the development and upkeep of the social control created. This rebellion started as a response to Governor William Berkeley’s defiance to protect settlers from Indian attacks. Nathaniel Bacon led the uprising of Virginia farmers and servants into a rebellion to rule against Governor William Berkeley. They promised to free the slaves and who joined their cause. The poor whites and black laborers as well as slaves united to demand an end on their servitude. This started an attempt to a revolution but was ended by deceitful promises of animosity and resulted in the participants of the revolt being hung. Additionally the economic advantage over African Americans played another big role social order that was taking place, causing Africans to rely on whites for jobs and security on soil that was new and unfamiliar to them. Whites also relied on Africans to keep up their land and labor needs to make profit, which caused a high demand for slaves and an even greater imbalance in social power. In order for the whites to continue to remain superior and maintain dominance, they imported more black slaves from Africa who weren’t familiar with the European language, so it would be easier for the whites to force their jurisdiction onto them and have to worry less about them forming alliances. Since that was the case, they abandoned their dependence on the servants from the West Indies, who knew English, and the whites provided special privileges to them. This caused the whites to rely more on the African slaves. Since Bacon’s Rebellion, there was a massive switch from the use of white labor, to African American labor. After Bacon’s Rebellion a substantial change was brought on to the slave industry when the use of white labor was completely switched over to only African slaves. This resulted in the amount of Africans brought into the country to dramatically increase, which expanded the slave trade business even more and was the initial formation of the estrangement between the whites and the blacks.
White supremacist scientists were also known to use Social Darwinism to support segregation and other oppressive laws. These Scientists claimed that African Americans were not fit and viewed them as the inferior race, so much so that there reason for their segregation was to avoid the contamination of white society.
Today’s white supremacists are divided into many different groups, but all the with same beliefs- that the white race is superior to all other races, especially directed toward the African Americans. Groups like the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan still make appearances today inflicting their beliefs onto us, usually resulting in an act of violence. In a recent rally in Charlottesville Virginia,protests were going on by white nationalists expressing how they are the superior race. During the rally they chanted, “Blood and Soil” which is an imitation of the Nazi slogan, “Blut and Boden”. That means that the blood and the land must belong to the racially pure. This rally resulted in dozens of people injured and a few killed. White supremacy is still relevant today makes a lasting impact every time it is acted upon.
Whether it is slavery, neo-Nazis or confederacy, white supremacy is still persisting. Throughout the history of the African Americans and white supremacists, in this day and age there should not be any form of white supremacists causing any more tragedies.
Article by Nina Ecaterinis & Salma Naim